Working at a doctor’s office is kind of like getting a lesson on how to work with constant interruptions. There are phone calls that need to be made, phone calls that need to received, paperwork that needs filing, faxes that need attention…and did I mention that all of this is done while processing patients and assisting the doctor with his exams?
Even if you don’t work at a doctor’s office, this scenario probably sounds familiar. Our workplaces, no matter where they are, can be a constant source of interruption. Sometimes this interruptions are welcome, especially if you can get stuck on a project like me and start to become hyper-focused. But for most us, we need those uninterrupted chunks of time so we can at least feel like we’re getting some kind of work done. There’s nothing more disheartening than spending two hours chugging through your email inbox only to realize you’ve only managed to answer five messages.
I was starting to feel recently like I was working, working, working and never getting anything done until I revisited professional organizer Julie Morgenstern’s body of work. She was Oprah’s organizing guru way back when and her unique time management system still attracts a large number of followers even decades later.
As an organization-obsessed teenager, my introduction to Morgenstern was actually through a book she co-authored with her (then) teenage daughter called Organizing from the Inside Out for Teens. (Incidentally, also a really good book for high school and post-secondary students to check out. Don’t let the title fool you. There are lots of juicy tidbits for adults in there as well).
An undisclosed number of years later, I picked up the original version of Julie Morgenstern’s book Organizing from the Inside Out, and another one called Never Check Email in the Morning (which has since been republished as Time Management from the Inside Out). A lot of the concepts I recognized from my teens, but this time around they were better adapted for the lifestyle of an independent, working adult. Although a lot of the content is targeted at office workers looking to improve their working style, I still think that a lot of Morgenstern’s suggestions can apply to anyone. Did the title Never Check Email in the Morning appeal to you? It appealed to me too.
What I’ve started to put in place, however, is Morgenstern’s idea of “The Quiet Hour”. It’s not necessarily an original idea, but the implementation of this small adjustment to my schedule has been so powerful that I had to share it with you. So many of our ideas surrounding time management involve doing more, and multi-tasking more in order to feel like we’re getting more done. But trying to balance several projects at once, as well as monitoring incoming phone calls and emails can not only be seen as inefficient, it lowers your productivity.
Have you experienced the pain and frustration of running around like a chicken with its head cut-off? Me too. That’s why you need “The Quiet Hour”. It’s the practice of putting aside an hour of uninterrupted time every day- this means no social media, no cell phones, no Internet, no nothing. Imagine: sixty minutes of solid “radio silence” to give you the space in your head and in your schedule to get done whatever it is that you need to get done. It’s a great solution no matter the task at hand- whether it means giving yourself that extra hour to push towards that deadline, or because you need to carve out time in your schedule for an in-depth project that requires all of your concentration.
Morgenstern mentions that some of the offices that she’s worked with in the past have adopted this universally into their office culture. Others, however, may find it difficult to stay away interruptions for a whole hour every single workday. I’m trying not to put pressure on myself to stick to a strict one hour a day schedule. Even setting aside half an hour to brainstorm a project, crunch some numbers, or power through a list of to-dos that you’ve putting off has proved to be an incredibly powerful practice. Find it hard to sit still for a whole hour? Put yourself on a timer and reward yourself with a coffee break when your time is up.
I’m always looking for creative ways to find more room in my schedule, and Organizing from the Inside Out and Time Management from the Inside Out definitely do not disappoint when it comes to time-saving tips. For a more in-depth look at why we organize, don’t forget to check out When Organizing Isn’t Enough.
Do you like Julie Morgenstern’s work as much as I do? Have any tips to help find room in your schedule? Share them with the group by commenting below!
Psst- wanna see which books have previously graced my bookshelves? Click here. Want even more fun reading recommendations? I’ve got some for you here. Don’t forget to find me on Goodreads so we can snoop each other’s bookshelves and dish about our favourites.